Social media engagement. Check the “How-To’s” of Google’s social media index – odd’s are you’ll find a similar range of questions.
“How to grow social media?”
“How to grow my followers on social media?”
“How to grow social media audience?”
“How can I increase social media engagement?”
It’s no secret that people love numbers. In fact, numbers used to be the primary focus when it came to a business’ social media strategy. How many followers can I get? Can a get a substantial amount of likes for this photo/video? What number of comments does this post have in comparison to that post?
Numbers used to be the “big thing”. This lit the way for follower-bots and technology to buy followers and likes to gain traction in the social media sphere. But now? Businesses and public figures alike are looking at how engaged their following is. Better yet – the type of social media engagement they’re getting. Having a large audience that doesn’t know who you are is much less beneficial than a smaller audience that knows, supports and is inspired by you and your business.
But how do you find the engaged followers that support your business? How can you cultivate a supportive community that is as excited about your goals as you are? Here are six tips to get you started on better cultivating an engaged social media following.
1. WHO ARE YOU SPEAKING TO?
This may seem like a silly question. “Of course I know who I’m speaking to – my audience! Haven’t you been listening?” That’s not what I mean. Who are you speaking to? Is it the single mothers of the Midwest looking for an opportunity to relax after work? Couples that have a difficult time finding a work/life balance in their new careers? The kid sitting on the front porch dreaming about a basketball scholarship?
One of my favourite newsletters regarding this topic is written by none other than Ann Handley. A marketing genius and writer extraordinaire – she publishes a newsletter twice per month with different writing tips and marketing hacks. My recent favourite is number 29 in this series, and it speaks about finding your ‘Doris’.
This may not make sense if you’re unfamiliar with the Annual Letter to the Shareholders published by Warren Buffet every year. But instead of writing the letter as he would speak to a shareholder, he instead writes to his sister Doris. This gives his writing more intimacy than it would have if it were a traditional letter, and thus is much more successful. Why? Because each of his shareholders feel as though he is speaking directly to them on an intimate level.
Who is your Doris? This is where you delve into your analytics and try to find her. Find out whom you are trying to reach and adjust your tone of voice to be as though you were actually speaking to them. Audience members feel so much more inclined to engage with you if they feel as though they are being spoken to directly rather than as just another number in your follower count.
2. WHERE IS YOUR AUDIENCE LOCATED?
I don’t just mean geographically. Where they are physically located is indeed important – as this can affect which content they deem relevant and important to them. It also can affect which content they engage with. However – this isn’t the most important factor in determining where your audience is.
What is the most important? Determining on which platform they spend the most of their time on. If your audience was primarily on Facebook, would you spend all your resources on Pinterest? If they were on YouTube, would you spend your resources on Twitter? No.
There’s two points I’d like to make here.
- Determine Your Focus Platform
One strategy that I love using here is what Media-Mogul Gary Vaynerchuk deems the 79-21 method. The gist of the method is being on every platform, but focusing your attention on the platform that your audience is the most present on. It’s another way of not placing all of your eggs in one basket. This method allows you to diversify your social presence and be better in position to capture new leads – but it also gives you the best chance to reach your audience where they already are. Hence the name 79-21; 71% of your time on your strongest platform, 29% of your time on other platforms that give your business the best opportunity possible to move forward in the digital space.
- Your Social Strategy Should be Tailored to Suit the Platform
You wouldn’t speak to your Facebook audience the same way that you would speak to your Instagram followers. Just as you wouldn’t show up on your blog the same way that you would on your Twitter account. Why? Odds are, your audience is not the same on every single platform.
I’m not saying that you should change your brand voice on every platform – but perhaps consider changing your tone. If you have an older audience full of decision-makers on platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn, speak to them in a way that would resonate rather than the way you might speak to a younger audience that resides primarily on platforms like Instagram or Twitter.
3. #HASHTAG SOCIAL
A cheesy heading perhaps – but hashtags are key when in comes to increasing your reach across various platforms. I’m sure you know this already, but many platforms (my favourites in this grouping being LinkedIn and Instagram) actually allow you to follow certain hashtags. Fantastic, right?
I especially love this feature because it gives you an inside look to what people are saying about a particular topic without having to spend hours researching who all is involving themselves in the conversation. Better yet, if you or your brand is participating in these conversations, it can help increase your reach and establish you as an industry expert. You can even use brand-specific hashtags for when others in the digital space are looking to engage with you online.
Trends are quick moving and fun to run with in the digital space. They pop up in a flash, sometimes have lasting power or sometimes are gone just as fast as they appear. Hashtags give you a clue in to these trends, and allow for you and your business to stay on top of them. Perhaps you can even utilise them in your digital strategy if it suits your brand.
4. ENGAGEMENT IS A TWO-WAY STREET
One thing you you can’t do in today’s social space is not engage with your following. If you’re asking them to engage with you and you don’t reciprocate, it’s a double standard. People, especially those in your business’ cultivated community, love to be acknowledged. Engaging with your audience, and even with others in the digital space can significantly increase your reach and visibility – but the benefits don’t stop there.
Engagement on social media allows you to establish connections with others in your industry. Perhaps it’s with industry leaders, influencers or customers – all types of engagement benefit your business. Social media engagement encourages sharing across all platforms – which is great for your brand’s visibility. Join a conversation – engage with your audience and show that you are listening to them. Establish yourself or your business as an approachable online figure. Thank someone if they post a glowing review. If someone posts something negative, try to make amends.
5. GET TO KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Do you know your audience? Just like finding who it is you’re trying to speak to online, you must also try to get to know them. What do they like? What do they dislike? Who are they interacting with aside from your business? How can you connect with them and speak to them in a way that they will respond to?
Consider it like a relationship with a friend – if you only ever speak about yourself without attempting to get to know your friend in return, your relationship won’t have that much sustenance. The same can be said with your online audience. Ask them questions, get to know them. Show your following that you’re interested in them, and that you value them – not just what they can do for you.
Some questions you can ask them:
How did you hear about us?
What is it about us that you like?
How can we better serve you?
What would you like to see us bring to the table that we haven’t already?
What about our content do you enjoy?
Tell us some of your interests…
What is one thing you’ve been dying to know about us?
The list could go on. My point is, you need to invest time into your audience in order for them to invest their time and resources in you. Establishing that trust, establishing the relationship with your audience – these are crucial steps that not only lead to better engagement online, but a more loyal customer base over all.
6. SHOWCASE YOUR BRAND
I was listening to Gary Vaynerchuk today – as his small tidbits of LinkedIn content are some that I genuinely look forward to interacting with each day. He was talking about needing a content strategy, and tailoring it to be platform-specific. But the key to his message was this: “approach speaking about your brand like it’s the television show that people sit down to watch, not as the commercials during the breaks.”
When I say the word ‘epiphany’ – I say it as an understatement. Gary’s message really changed the way I think about marketing businesses on social media. The reason why is simple. I’m not a huge fan of ads. Why? Because many times, I think the ones that I see are often not relevant to what I’m interested in. I love advertisements that can make a connection with me and my interests. Not just try and sell me on a product or a business.
Showcasing your brand on social media should adhere to this strategy as well, in my opinion. Strive to make a connection with your audience whilst showcasing your brand. If your audience likes your social outreach efforts, make a purposeful effort to show them more of this. Find a way to establish that connection without sounding too sales-y on any one particular product or on your brand itself.
If you take this approach – you won’t sound like an advertisement that people wish they could scroll by or skip through. You’ll have an engaged, excited audience that looks forward to interacting with your content, with your products and with your brand.
The key to good social media engagement is treating your audience like you would your friends. Speak to them with a familiar tone. Engage with their content. Make them feel as though you are interested in them. Get to know them. You’ll begin to see the engagement across all of your profiles increase. If you’d like to talk strategy or are interested in boosting your social media engagement – drop me a line, and we can get started customising an engagement strategy for your business today.